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View Full Version : Not all friction pegs are equal



bazmaz
03-20-2014, 01:46 AM
Elsewhere on ukulele social media I am seeing beginners dismiss friction tuning pegs off hand as being unusable.

I have never quite understood this, and personally love them. Did a short piece and the subject and a video which demonstrates that you get what you pay for.

http://www.gotaukulele.com/2014/03/a-look-inside-ukulele-friction-tuners.html?spref=fb

Five Ways
03-20-2014, 02:40 AM
Hi bazmaz I have quite a few ukes with standard tuning keys, two weeks ago I bought a koaloha kcm and I had a slight worry about friction pegs but after couple days use dont know why I was concerned l love em to bits.
Steve.

PhilUSAFRet
03-20-2014, 05:03 AM
Only poor quality, sometimes improperly adjusted friction tuners are difficult to use

river_driver
03-20-2014, 05:33 AM
For that matter, not all geared tuners are created equal. I've encountered some geared tuners (both open and sealed types) that were absolute rubbish.

My preference is for geared tuners over friction, but as long as any tuner turns smoothly and holds tune, I got no problem.

Kayak Jim
03-20-2014, 06:10 AM
Hi bazmaz I have quite a few ukes with standard tuning keys, two weeks ago I bought a koaloha kcm and I had a slight worry about friction pegs but after couple days use dont know why I was concerned l love em to bits.
Steve.

Same new uke, same experience here. Now I'm in the market for another soprano and am looking for one specifically with friction not geared tuners.

bazmaz
03-20-2014, 12:07 PM
Steve - the ones on Koalohas are sublime in my opinion - as far as I can tell - exactly like the better quality pegs in this video.

It's just sad that bad frictions pervade.

Had a new uke in today for test. Ultra cheap frictions, three of which were sticky to use. The fourth was so sticky I turned it and sheared the inside of the button so the button turns but not the post.....

Thankfully, I have a bag of parts, and swapped them all out for something better.

coolkayaker1
03-20-2014, 02:02 PM
Barry, that video is absolutely essential watching for all ukulele owners.

As you may recall, like you, I, too, love friction pegs. Frankly, although I have one uke with UPT Gotoh planetaries, they feel a tad "unstable" compared to friction tuners--not in the tuning, but the feel of the knob, hard to explain, but I know you know--and I can adjust UPTs slightly with the screw, but only so much, and -- bottom line--I prefer friction pegs of quality.

The Gotoh Deluxe, like on a Kiwaya, are heaven on earth (and better than even modern and vintage Martin pegs, by far).

I have never had an issue with KoOlaha pegs (also used by M Pereira and other luthiers), either.

Thanks for showing the ins and outs of friction tuners.

kwall
03-20-2014, 02:58 PM
i like friction tuners better tbh. i got a pono and was nervous and annoyed at first but now its something i enjoy

Pukulele Pete
03-21-2014, 12:09 AM
Friction tuners work fine even the cheap ones. My wife's concert has the cheapest tuners there are and they work great ,no problems . I think if they are adjusted correctly even the cheap ones work well. The cheap tuners I'm talking about are the black ones in the video , except they are white.

coolkayaker1
03-21-2014, 12:27 AM
Friction tuners work fine even the cheap ones. My wife's concert has the cheapest tuners there are and they work great ,no problems . I think if they are adjusted correctly even the cheap ones work well. The cheap tuners I'm talking about are the black ones in the video , except they are white.

Someone always has to make it a color issue! ;)

Pukulele Pete
03-21-2014, 01:12 AM
Someone always has to make it a color issue! ;)

Ba doom boom .

bazmaz
03-22-2014, 05:56 AM
Just had a genuine email about the video - someone claiming I don't know what I am talking about and the cheapest pegs in the video are just fine 'if you know what you are doing'.


<shakes head>

savagehenry
03-22-2014, 07:18 AM
Do you feel that there is a big difference between say $19.95 tuners from Mainland and $50 Goto deluxe?

bazmaz
03-22-2014, 07:25 AM
huge difference Henry - the cheaper ones like the Mainlands use about 5 parts, and the friction is plastic on plastic. The better quality ones add in all sorts of washers and sleeves that make them turn like butter. The Mainlands are a small stup up from the the middle pegs in the video I posted.

KnowsPickin
03-22-2014, 08:14 AM
What is your feeling about friction pegs that are just that, friction PEGS. I see a lot of what appear to be very nice ukes with pegs that are just carved wood (possibly ebony) pushed into holes with only one moving part, the peg itself. Is it possible to make ukes with those kind of tuners in such a way that they work smoothly?

bazmaz
03-22-2014, 08:21 AM
Yeah I know some people who use them - essentially traditional violin pegs. Not used them myself, but I think for them to work well its all about a match in the taper of the peg and the hole they are fitted to.

Shady Wilbury
03-30-2014, 03:01 AM
Thank you for this thread, Baz. Reading this dispelled a lot of my fears about the frictions on the Gretsch G9112 resonator ukulele. I've just adopted one, and those friction tuners are a dream to use. (They're the Grover ones.)

The Big Kahuna
03-30-2014, 03:12 AM
Ignore me :)

The Big Kahuna
03-30-2014, 04:51 AM
Out of interest, Baz, if I wanted to change the geared tuners on my Luna Honu soprano for friction tuners, what should I go for, and where should I get them from over here? Mrs Kahuna would like to learn, but the tuners are junk. I have a brand new set of Ko'olau Gold strings (thanks Andrew) which I don't want to put on until the tuners are changed.

katysax
03-30-2014, 04:59 AM
Thanks - that's a very informative video. It does make me wonder. I've got a Vita Uke with tuners that are at least 70 years old, and they still work smooth as butter. I'd be shocked if they have plastic parts inside because plastic deteriorates. In fact, the higher end tuners were kind of scary to me because they rely so fundamentally on plastic.

silveraven
03-30-2014, 06:11 AM
Out of interest, Baz, if I wanted to change the geared tuners on my Luna Honu soprano for friction tuners, what should I go for, and where should I get them from over here? Mrs Kahuna would like to learn, but the tuners are junk. I have a brand new set of Ko'olau Gold strings (thanks Andrew) which I don't want to put on until the tuners are changed.

Hey Niq, I found this thread from ages ago when I was thinking of swapping out the tuners on my Luna Honu too. http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?50614-Luna-Honu-Tribal-Turtle-earectomy

Haven't got around to actually switching to friction tuners because I haven't found a luthier/technician I can trust in my area. :-/

The Big Kahuna
03-30-2014, 06:37 AM
Brilliant, thanks for that :)

The Big Kahuna
03-30-2014, 06:41 AM
Looks like a tiny bit of countersinking is required for the taper. I've got a countersink drill bit and also a cone-drill:

65359

Should do the trick if I tape the head with gaffa tape first. It's not as if it's a 1,000 uke

guitarsnrotts
04-13-2014, 04:45 AM
Tried retro-fitting a number of cheapo ukes with upgraded friction tuners. A best buy IMO are the Grover 4's either W - for White buttons or B - for black. Also used them to replace some old tuners on an early 70s Kamaka. By using SS flat washers rather than the bushings I was able to swap out the old tuners without having to do any drilling of the headstock.

Tootler
04-13-2014, 06:00 AM
Interesting review, Baz. I suspect you could replace the washers on those cheapo tuners for a few pence from a good DIY shop and make them tolerable but they'll probably never be better than that.


Friction tuners work fine even the cheap ones. My wife's concert has the cheapest tuners there are and they work great ,no problems . I think if they are adjusted correctly even the cheap ones work well. The cheap tuners I'm talking about are the black ones in the video , except they are white.

I find the same. Even the cheap ones on my 15 Lidle soprano work OK. The important thing is to adjust them correctly. I suspect many people who complain about friction tuners don't realise you need to adjust them or how to do it.

Planetary ones feel odd, IMO, because they still work on friction but the gearing means you need to turn them more ( they also need less friction to hold them). I have planetary tuners on my banjo uke and they're very good but I'm still not used to how much I need to turn them to bring the string into tune.

bnolsen
04-13-2014, 07:38 AM
Tried retro-fitting a number of cheapo ukes with upgraded friction tuners. A best buy IMO are the Grover 4's either W - for White buttons or B - for black. Also used them to replace some old tuners on an early 70s Kamaka. By using SS flat washers rather than the bushings I was able to swap out the old tuners without having to do any drilling of the headstock.

Is there any difference with using the washers as compared to the bushings? I recently replaced the tuners on my fluke with 4b's which was a tight fit but the tuners work well. If anything these tuners are too good in that I don't actually know when they are turning or not. The old tuners had these little "skips" in them so I could more easily zero in faster. I have a similar complaint with the tuners on my martin oxk...they're too smooth!

bazmaz
04-14-2014, 02:35 AM
[QUOTE=Tootler;1508391]



I find the same. Even the cheap ones on my 15 Lidle soprano work OK. The important thing is to adjust them correctly. I suspect many people who complain about friction tuners don't realise you need to adjust them or how to do it.
QUOTE]

Sorry - disagree - for only a few quid, the difference between somehting decent like Grover 4's is night and day - why put up with tuners that grip and stick? I even swapped out the stock Grovers on my Flea and Fluke for that reason. Plus its a very easy change.

bazmaz
04-14-2014, 02:36 AM
Is there any difference with using the washers as compared to the bushings? I recently replaced the tuners on my fluke with 4b's which was a tight fit but the tuners work well. If anything these tuners are too good in that I don't actually know when they are turning or not. The old tuners had these little "skips" in them so I could more easily zero in faster. I have a similar complaint with the tuners on my martin oxk...they're too smooth!

Dont get the 'too smooth' thing personally - that Is just what I want - the smoothness of gears coupled with a more direct turning action, lighter weight and better looks on smaller headstocks.

With the 4B's - there are a ton of parts inside that make for the smoothness - it's not just a case of them using a different washer.

Kayouker
04-18-2014, 10:06 AM
Steve - the ones on Koalohas are sublime in my opinion - as far as I can tell - exactly like the better quality pegs in this video.

It's just sad that bad frictions pervade.

Had a new uke in today for test. Ultra cheap frictions, three of which were sticky to use. The fourth was so sticky I turned it and sheared the inside of the button so the button turns but not the post.....

Thankfully, I have a bag of parts, and swapped them all out for something better.

The truth revealed.

Kayouker
04-18-2014, 10:09 AM
Sorry - disagree - for only a few quid, the difference between somehting decent like Grover 4's is night and day - why put up with tuners that grip and stick? I even swapped out the stock Grovers on my Flea and Fluke for that reason. Plus its a very easy change.

More truth revealed, lol...

strumsilly
04-18-2014, 12:47 PM
I love the friction on my Koaloha, hate the ones on my '56 martin, they are the grovers with the fiber washers. they have to be really tight to hold, and then they are a pain to dial in.Grovver even sent me new washers, and they still are fiddly. I know this is blasphamy, but I am in the process of putting grover geared on. the uke is a great player , but has been refinished and the logo even sanded off. so it's not a collector anyway. maybe it has something to do with the headstock being thinner.

Down Up Dick
05-18-2014, 10:29 AM
I had some questions, but I watched the video and can see that my very old and cheap tuners are my problem. I'll look into some better ones. I have to tighten mine very tight, and they still loosen. This old pineapple Uke had wooden pegs in it, but serious things happened to it in my absence, and, when I got it back, it only had one or two left so I bought new (cheap) ones. This was in 1963! They worked ok for a long time, though it was mostly a wall hanger. I'd like to use wooden pegs again, but I have no idea where to find 'em. I don't imagine they'd hold very well anyway. Mostly, the Uke is just for looks, but I play it once in awhile. Thanks for the video.

DazW
05-18-2014, 10:52 AM
I also love friction pegs and have in the past bought a few ukes online showing pictures with friction pegs, but arriving with geared tuners. Kamoa soprano, Kala SMHS to name a couple. I also nearly bought a spruce top Ohana recently until I noticed it said in the small print that the uke now has geared tuners. Its usually suggested that this is a good thing and considered an upgrade by some stores. I agree frictions are a little fiddly if theyre new to you, but they do look much better on a soprano in my opinion